A recent story in the Chambersburg Public Opinion reported the closing of an “R” licensee who had opened 8 years ago to compete directly with local distributors in the sale of takeout beer.
In 2009, about the time that Good-Ta-Go was establishing itself to directly compete with distributors, MBDA went to the Supreme Court to fight the LCB’s decision to allow grocery and convenience stores to have an R license. We were unsuccessful and the Wegmans case changed the beer marketplace.
As an “R” at that time, Good-Ta-Go could sell singles, sixes, twelves, growlers, and food on premises, unlike the local distributors with whom it chose to compete. In 2015, the MBDA won the right for distributors to sell 12 packs through court action, and, as a result of Act 166 of 2016, the right to sell consumers the package they wanted. This includes singles, sixes, twelves and growlers.
Since Good-Ta-Go opened, the Chambersburg Giant has begun selling beer. More recently, Rutter’s Farm Store, located less than one half mile from it, has an R license and can sell both beer and wine. Sheetz has an R license pending just 7 minutes (2.5 miles) from this store.
As noted here before, other R licensees have publicly lamented in newspaper opinion pieces the changes, noting that their sales have declined.
With the changes in Act 166, distributors have, in fact, been able to step up their game, offering consumers far more selection and better service than any R licensee. Our job is to continue to convince consumers that only distributors, who offer much larger selections, better service, price and knowledgeable employees, are the specialty retailer who can properly cater to those who love malt and brewed beverages.
Here is the story from July 2:
CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Good-Ta-Go on Orchard Drive is closing after more than eight years in business, with the store’s owner saying he fell victim to changes in state law.
Good-Ta-Go, which bills itself as “The Beer Lover’s Store,” has an “R” license from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. That classification of license is held by restaurants.
The business is set up so that most patrons sample a craft beer or two from its 36 taps, have a snack and purchase six-packs of beer to take home. Live music is available Friday nights.
Changes made in late 2016 to another type of license — the license held by beer distributors — had a dramatic impact on Good-Ta-Go’s bottom line, business owner Mike Hennessy said.
“We were doing fine until they changed the rules,” he said.
Distributors previously only sold full cases of beer, mostly from warehouse-type buildings, without the inspections and regulations required for restaurants.
Law changes allowed them to start selling smaller packages of beer, meaning Hennessy essentially gained overnight competition to the carryout business he was running.
“In 45 days, I lost 50 percent of my gross sales,” he said.
Good-Ta-Go never got back into the black despite 70 hours a week of work, he said.
Patrons who asked Monday about Good-Ta-Go’s signs saying Sunday will be its last day expressed disappointment about the closure. So did a beer supplier who shook Hennessy’s hand.
“It’s a nice place. The laws of this state don’t support private enterprises,” said the man, who declined to give his name.
Hennessy expressed frustration with lawmakers, who he said ignored pleas from the taverns association and demurred to the needs of cities such as Philadelphia.
He lamented that taverns are going out of business and distributors are not hiring at a rate close to matching those job losses.